The health and wellness world is intensely interested in food intolerances at the moment. However, interest doesn’t always equate to accuracy.
On the contrary, there are times when layman’s research can lead to a misdiagnosis and solutions that don’t address the root of the problem. Gluten and fructan intolerances are an area where this confusion can easily take place.
what is gluten?
Gluten is a catch-all category for a protein found in wheat, barley, rye, and triticale. It plays an important role as a glue that helps foods maintain their shape.
In most cases, gluten is broken down by digestive enzymes, or it passes harmlessly through the digestive system. Occasionally, individuals have an autoimmune response to gluten called celiac disease, which could relate to poor lining quality on the wall of the small intestines.
what are fructans and galactans?
Fructans and galactans are long carbohydrate chains. They typically consist of between 3 and 9 carbohydrate molecules. These are called oligosaccharides, with either a fructose molecule or a galactose molecule attached, leading to the name fructo-oligosaccharides (FOS) or galacto-oligosaccharides (GOS), respectively.
As is the case with gluten, these carbohydrates are difficult to digest. They tend to pass into the small intestines, where they ferment, leading to a variety of unpleasant (though generally not dangerous) symptoms.
misdiagnosing gluten intolerances
Gluten intolerances are a common diagnosis, especially for those who are self-diagnosing. Its symptoms are familiar experiences for many individuals after eating grain products. Many assume that an intolerant reaction indicates an inability to digest the gluten present in their systems.
However, if you don’t have a formal celiac diagnosis, there is a very good chance that this is incorrect. The real problem may have to do with an inability to digest fructans (which are commonly found in wheat along with garlic, onion, leeks, apricots, and other fruits and veggies).
This is good news for anyone who thinks they have a gluten intolerance, as celiac disease is an immune system response — which means it’s an allergy and is potentially dangerous. In comparison, an intolerance simply implies that the body can’t break down food properly due to a lack of certain enzymes.
what can I do about it?
If you suspect that you have a gluten intolerance, it’s important to officially diagnose that fact, as it relates to your immune system and can be dangerous. However, if you find that you aren’t particularly sensitive to gluten, you may want to consider the fact that you have a fructan intolerance.
If you suffer from an diagnosed gluten intolerance and have celiac disease, unfortunately there is not much you can do about it. You can have this diagnosed by your doctor. A gluten-free diet can help you prevent symptoms such as abdominal pain. This is quite a strict diet, because your food must not contain any trace of gluten. Fortunately, supermarkets offer many gluten-free alternatives and most restaurants can provide gluten-free meals.
If you don’t have a gluten intolerance but suffer from an intolerance to fructans? Then there is more you can do. Digestive enzymes can help you with digestion and prevent symptoms like gas production. These enzymes can be found in supplement form and can be used if you want to eat something with fructans.
In summary, gluten intolerance is an annoying condition that can affect you a lot. If you suffer from fructan intolerance, there are certain digestive enzymes that can support you with this!